Tuesday, August 22, 2006

French Flies

A question posed by the Icarus Report on May 3rd, 2006, has been resolved. Wingsuit flyer and birdman historian Francis Heilmann tells us that it's highly unlikely that Jean Durand the batwing jumper is the same man as Jean Durand the stunt flyer who lived in or visited the U.S. in 1928. J.D. of the batwings was a French soldier who flew in 1950 with wings of silk. In 1951, after a particularly terriflying (that was a typo, but I'm leaving it in) flight filled with spins he decided to put down the wings for good, thus saving his life.

Heilmann has also recently published an article in Paramag about the first French batwing jumper, featured above. "The first French parachutist with wings was 'James Williams' (his true name was Jean Niland), and he flew from a plane on the 16th of March, 1937 at Toussus-Paris, maybe for only one flight, no more, 40 days before the death of Clem Sohn," Heilmann wrote to me. The Icarus Report hopes to offer a full translation of the piece as soon as it's available.

On another note, I'd like to point out that an article I wrote about for Popular Mechanics about Visa Parviainen (who strapped jet engines to his ankles and flew horizontally for 30 seconds in his wingsuit) seems to have slipped under the radar of the skyflying community. You can read it here.


Barbecues said...

It is these early pioneers that forge the way forward, the French has had a lot of involvment in early aviation and have been at the front of flight through those first years.

asda car insurance said...

The french have always been in the forefront of aviation, they were the largest aircraft builders and many countries had French planes in the early years of flight, from the first ballonists to aircraft for war they were always one step ahead of the other countries.

Anonymous said...

'D.B.Cooper' had a dark overcoat over a business suit. ya think...????

So if we look for a French origin skydiver who knew about 'batsuits' before they were wingsuits, we could track him down? Who could have known about this stuff in the 60s and 70s, and could he be traced? Inspector Clouseau, where are you?

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